Elizabethan Renaissance Virginal Music
This is a three-minute vignette with a longish pause midway.
NOTE: Since first laying eyes on these near piano instruments I had always imagined they were designed to be smaller, less expensive and portable piano. Obviously, I was wrong, and have been set right this morning. It would seem that the piano came much later because Bartolomeo Cristofori, of Florence, wanted an instrument with a dynamic nuance of sound and began designing the “gravicembalo col piano e forte”. This was basically a spinet hack to add hammers to strike, not pluck, the strings. For all his hard work this was not the sound he wanted nor did it readily catch on. To read more about the turn of events that led to the present day piano CLICK —> HERE
PS: My efforts were nearly moot when our power went out and erased all my hard work. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had written the piece in Word and had previously previewed the piece here on WordPress before the blackout… this saved my links! However, it scrambled the code and threw everything to the far right. I got that fixed but my paragraph spacings are forfeit. Hence, the floating periods.
For some really great takes on the prompt this morning just click on the little blue frog!
27 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: the virginal”
I listened to the audio of virginal music, and GADS, I did not like it at all. It had a morbidness about it. And I busted up laughing at your piece of fiction. It was precisely how I would have reacted! I often wonder when I see a movie from a historic time… or a western or some period piece, why everyone looks clean and their hair just so. You know folks had to be mighty rank smelling back in those days!! Now that you have written those thoughts, I feel better about the way my mind thinks!
LOL, Lori! Yeah, the music is kinda Goth; is it not? I think of the Munsters when I hear a harpsichord. Aren’t we glad that Bartolomeo Cristofori started something when he strove for better and fuller sound? I studied at UCSB and took a course called “The History of Fashion”. You had to come to class with a strong constitution some days. I learned so much, in spite of some to the topics from the past, and I just loved it!
An Historical tidbit: In the days when none bathed for fear of catching a cold, the common recommended remedy for chapped lips was to rub your finger behind your ear and apply the residue liberally to the afflicted area.
Yup, the sound of the virginal is all forte and not much piano, and sadly much of the music of the era was in a minor key. Personally, I prefer a harpsichord myself for that particular type of sound. I do have to remind myself that all the piano music we know and love is a product of the instrument and the period; music theory evolved a lot when instruments were more sophisticated and capable of greater versatility of sound.
On a separate topic I often wonder if people were quite as stinky as we now imagine. People didn’t take baths, but might they not have had a good wash sometimes? After all, our noses haven’t evolved to become super sensitive. Stinky now would also have been stinky then…
Kate, I will be the first to admit that I know nuthin’ from nuthin’ much about music, well, other than I can tell you which music I like and don’t like. Easy. I like everything but rap, heavy metal, and the really ultra twangy country stuff. 😉 That said, your summation that more sophisticated instruments would enable greater versatility of sound makes sense. There are horns, blow and get a single loud note, and then there are french horns, or compare a sharp sounding penny whistle to the fluid breathy sound of the flute. I could listen to french horns and flutes for hours because of their complexity and variation of sound whereas the horn and penny whistle would become annoying in minutes!
As for stinky, yes, some did bathe at intervals and some more than others (the rich?) but it was those times in between the baths that could get interesting. Think about the custom of ‘strewing the floor’ and the use of ‘nosegays’ and you begin to imagine that BO was a problem of the times. I found this article on strewing herbs that goes into a light detailing of their need and use then, and goes on to suggest the use of these scented plants in today’s home. (I loved the author’s personal anecdote on Cleveland Sage!) http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/gardening-projects/strewing-herbs-zmaz91djzgoe.aspx?PageId=4
I like virginal music. I am sorry about your power problems but you gain great kudos for having your material backed up.
Sometimes, Tom, living here gets so interesting. I lived in California for most of my life and can count on one hand the times we had a lapse of power. In my almost eight years here I believe I would need a set of at least four. I’m glad you enjoyed the virginal music. 🙂
That’s a lot of power cuts.
Thank you, Julie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 😉
Very graphic. My nostrils were practically twitching in distaste. Nice one!
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Sandra. (As I typed this it struck me as strange to say.) 😉
i commend her for being discreet. 🙂
Thank you for reading, Plaridel!
Ha… For us today no perfume can ever cover the smell of unwashed bodies.. Never,
Agree, Björn! Our olfactory senses are too tender for that now. 😉
I could smell this.
Ooo… I’m so sorry, Dawn!
This is fun. No deodorant, infrequent bathing… and the lice, the fleas, the bed bugs. Shivvver. Not so romantic if you look at the details.
Gahlearner, when I read of how it was I wonder how it is that we’ve lasted this long as a species. I was just reading that the Ceruse, lead makeup, caused baldness, and often death from lead poisoning. A curse of beauty in that age.
It’s easy to romanticise the past, and old instruments and furniture and clothing can set us imagining. But your story is a reminder that we have really never had it so good, at least in terms of the lifestyle we in the west live. Well told.
Margaret, thank you for your thoughtful reply. It was hard to get all that information into 100 words, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
That music really evokes a certain period of history. It is a little jangly by today’s standards but I’m sure it was better than nothing. No one thinks about the smells of that time period though, as you pointed out. I think I like it better today too. 🙂
Yes, few in this age would handle the smells of that time! 😉 Thank you for reading, David!
There is a sensual quality to your description of the corset and the lace, sharply contrasted in the last paragraph. Nope are my thoughts exactly. Good story, I enjoyed it.
Apparently, I wrote you a reply and forgot to hit the reply button. Argh. I’m sorry! Lore, I’m so glad that you came to read my story on Tuesday and I am glad that you enjoyed it enough to leave a comment. Comments help my writing to grow. Thank you.